Giant pigs the size of polar bears are being bred to tackle a pork shortage.
Farmers in China are selectively breeding those that grow fastest then fattening them up on a high-energy, high-protein diet of soya and wheat.
Weighing up to 79 stone, the super-sized porkers are at least five times as heavy as the average pig at 12.5 to 16 stone.
Even the biggest European pigs bred for Parma ham are less than a third of the weight, at up to 25 stone.
China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of pork but prices have soared nearly 50% in a year after herds were wiped out by African swine fever.
Farmers selectively breeding those that grow fastest, then feeding them a high-energy, high-protein diet, typically of soya and wheat, to fatten them up.
But animal welfare campaigners have expressed concerns about the pressure on a pig’s heart, lungs and legs from super-sizing them.
Peter Stevenson, of Compassion in World Farming, said: “The largest pigs in Europe, bred for Parma ham, are 350lb and the average is 175lb to 220lb, so the size of these Chinese pigs is appalling.
“The pigs are being bred to three times the top size I have ever heard of and that could be extremely painful for the animals.”
Farmer Pang Cong, based in China’s south-western Guangxi region, told how his biggest so far weighed almost 79 stone, or 1,100lb. Farm pigs are typically around 275lb.
The pigs being bred in Guangxi sell for up to £1,135, more than three times the average monthly disposable income in the region’s capital, Nanning, according to Bloomberg News.
More than 4,000 sausages or rashers of bacon could be produced from Mr Pang’s giant pig.
China produces around half of the world’s pigs and pork accounts for more than 60% of Chinese families’ meat consumption.
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